“Anriva Tour” Did Not Fly To Istanbul, But Advertised The Flight: Who Was Right And Who Was Wrong?

Ophelia Simonyan

Journalist, fact-checker

At the January 19 sitting, the National Assembly was discussing the government’s amendments to the Law on Licensing, which facilitates the activities of foreign businesses in Armenia for 13 types of activities.

Speaking about the bill, Hripsime Stambulyan, a member of the “Hayastan” faction, said that the changes are being implemented for a specific country, alluding to Turkey. CivilNet, however, soon published the bill and wrote that Turkey is not included in the list of countries receiving the privilege.

In response to Stambulyan’s speech, Hasmik Hakobyan, a member of the “Civil Contract” faction, announced from the podium that Hripsime Stambulyan was the founder-director of “Anriva Tour” travel company, which operated Yerevan-Istanbul flights.

“Sale: Yerevan-İstanbul-Yerevan, 96,000 AMD. We are waiting for you, “Anriva Tour” … I would like to inform you that the founder-director of this travel agency is Hripsime Stambulyan, who a few minutes ago pointed accusingly at us about the fact that there are flights between Yerevan and Istanbul ․․․ “Of all people, at least you should not talk about that topic, Mrs. Istanbulyan, because you have earned money for years as a result of transporting our compatriots to Istanbul,” said Hasmik Hakobyan.

Another CC MP, Vagharshak Hakobyan, continued the topic, noting that he did a little research in 15 minutes and found out that the first Yerevan-Istanbul flight was organized during Robert Kocharyan’s presidency in 2003.

“The first flight was launched in 2003, during the presidency of Robert Kocharyan, back when our ARF partners were in power. The flight was initiated by some Turkish company and the Armenian ‘Bagrat Tour’ company,” said Vagharshak Hakobyan.

Media.am decided to check the authenticity of the deputies’ words.

Stambulyan managed “Anriva Tour” LLC in 2017-2021, but is not the founding director, the company was founded by Vahagn Stambulyan in 2013.

The announcement read by Hasmik Hakobyan is from 2017. “Anriva Tour” did advertise tickets for the Yerevan-Istanbul flight, but Stambulyan denies the information that the company carried out those flights, in her words, they only advertised the tickets.

The announcement does not really mention that the flight is operated by “Anriva Tour,” but in another statement, the company states that it carries out passenger transportation, including to Turkey.

As we were told by Civil Aviation, “Anriva Tour” has not operated any flights to Istanbul, moreover, the company only registers orders and has no flights.

As for Vagharshak Hakobyan’s statement that the first Yerevan-Istanbul flight was organized during Robert Kocharyan’s presidency in 2003, this information does not correspond to reality.

The history of establishing air communication between Armenia and Turkey dates back to the 1990s, when the European Civil Aviation Committee forced Turkey to open an air border with Armenia. Shahen Petrosyan (1993-96), former head of the RA General Department of Civil Aviation, told us that the Armenian Airlines flight was officially opened in May 1995, at which time the first Yerevan-Istanbul flight was organized.

“We signed the Armenian-Turkish agreement in April to open the air blockade. I personally went to Ankara and my Turkish colleague and I solved that issue, and finally, the air blockade was lifted. Thus, Armenian Airlines operated two flights a week,” Petrosyan said.

According to Shahen Petrosyan, before that, the Armenian planes also flew to Istanbul, but with Russian codes, that is, they flew to Sochi, where the code was changed, after which they went to Istanbul.

Summing up, Hripsime Stambulyan really managed “Anriva Tour,” which at least advertised flights to Istanbul and passenger transportation to Turkey. And the first Yerevan-Istanbul flight was carried out not in 2003, during the time of Robert Kocharyan, but in 1995, during the presidency of Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

Ophelia Simonyan

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